By Kent Gray
Golf. So seductive and yet so frustratingly fickle.
There was Rayhan Thomas, skipping along at two-under through nine on the fabled Old Course and four-under for the first 27-holes of the prestigious St Andrews Links Trophy (after an opening 69 on the New Course) when wallop, the game decided a wee reminder of who is boss was needed.
From a top-10 position overnight and then just four shots off the pace, the 18-year-old somehow conspired to miss the cut as five bogeys in his last six holes saw the Dubai-based Indian international sign for a three over 75 to finish +1 for the championship – a shot shy of reaching Sunday’s final 36 holes.
It was similar heartache to that Thomas suffered at last year’s Amateur Championship when he missed a four-footer to reach the matchplay phase of Britain’s premier amateur event.
Thomas will now reassess ahead of the 123rd staging of The Amateur to be held at Royal Aberdeen and Murcar Links from June 18-23. If the old golf adage about one learning more from a tough defeat than any win holds true, watch for the Dubai Creek and MENA Tour trailblazer to make a decent run in the North East of Scotland.
For the record, Laird Shepherd (Rye Golf Club), at -8 after rounds of 70 and 65, takes a one stroke lead into the final 36-holes of the St Andrews Links Trophy over John Murphy (Kinsale Golf Club). The top 40 players and ties made the cut; 43 players in total will play Sunday looking to emulate Justin Rose, the 1997 champion and thus far biggest name winner of the title.
Since its inception in 1989, the St Andrews Links Trophy has attracted the world’s leading amateurs, many of whom have gone on to enjoy success on the PGA and European Tours, notably Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Trevor Immelman, Geoff Ogilvy, Padraig Harrington, Rose and Rory McIlroy.